(Image Source: Packaging Strategies)
The COVID-19 pandemic has shifted consumers’ buying patterns from brick-and-mortar stores to online shopping, which led to fundamental design changes in packaging. According to Laura Clark, Vice President of Global Strategy and Business Development at Sealed Air, warehouse and fulfillment center operators need to reshape their packaging activities and think about automation.
The pandemic accelerated e-commerce growth, which also drove retailers to redesign their shipping and packaging process. Many small retailers switched their traditional brick-and-mortar distribution channels to shipping out of stores directly. With physical stores turned into fulfillment centers, retailers needed smaller packages and smaller equipment due to facility space constraints. Larger retailers who already had bigger warehouses and fulfillment centers also had to optimize their cargo performance by sizing down packages and reducing the amount of empty space.
“COVID has pulled the future forward.” – Laura Clark, Vice President of Global Strategy and Business Development, Sealed Air
On the other hand, consumers became more aware of packaging waste and reusable materials due to the large amount of packaging which came with online shopping. A report from McKinsey found that most consumers are happy to pay more for sustainable packages, especially in the food takeaway industry. “Packaging is the one and only communication vehicle that you’re 100% guaranteed will come in contact with your customer”, shared Laura Clark of Sealed Air. According to a survey conducted by Sealed Air, respondents showed a keen interest in touchless packaging which allows them to scan the QR codes to learn more about product information. For instance, how the item was produced or whether the packaging is environment-friendly.